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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful historical account of the growth of statistics in science, February 12, 2008
Stephen Stigler is a well-known statistician and author. He is also one of the few statisticians to do intense research on historical facts related to the development of the field. He has written other fine books on the history of statistics. This book concentrates on stories in the history of statistics where statistical analyses were done that had an impact and the statisticians laid their cards on the table. Too often, even today claims are made that require statistical evidence but the evidence is lacking, or some of the assumptions are hidden. Starting with the controversy between Karl Pearson and the Cambridge economists, Stigler shows how important it is to bring out the assumptions and methods used to make the case convincing and how not to fall into subtle traps. He also points out that attribution of a method to a person does not usually go to the discoverer. He calls it Stigler's Law of Eponymy. Examples include Chebychev's inequality discovered earlier by Bienayme and the Gaussian distribution associated with Gauss but known earlier by De Moivre and Laplace. He also includes a chapter questioning whether Thomas Bayes was the discoverer of Bayes's Theorem.
Well written and thoroughly researched, this is a great reference book on aspects of the history of statistics. This book is typical of what we have learned to expect from Stigler.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to understand where statistical ideas come from., July 27, 2005
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The author is a well-known statistician who has also a gift as historian. The book is a collection of essays on the development of the main ideas in Statistics. These essays are not in chronological order and overlap on several points. That can create some confusion in the reader. The first essay is about the controversy on the effect of parents' alcoholism on children between Karl Pearson and the Cambridge economists (A. Marshall, J.M. Keynes, A. Pigou). While Pearson expected harsh criticism from the medical profession he was unexpectedly broadsided by economists on the ground of logic instead of data. Pearson's response was: statistics on the table, please. The book goes on clarifying the developments of the main ideas in the field: Central Limit Theorem, Normal distribution, least squares, degrees of freedom, regression, Bayes's Theorem, and so on. It also provide the role of famous mathematicians like Gauss, Laplace, Legendre and others. However, Pearson, Galton and Edgeworth maintain a high visibility in the book. It is not a reference book of the historical development of ideas and intuitions in Statistics, and few chapters reflect more the interest of the author than the coherence with the title "Statistics on the Table. The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods" like in Statistics and Standards, and The Trial of the Pyx, or Apollo Mathematicus. Outstanding and funny is the chapter Stigler's law of Eponymy, which states that no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. It is definitively an enjoyable reading and I strongly recommend it to whoever has an interest, weak or strong, in the subject.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise introductory book on history of statistics, March 6, 2000
Professor Stephen M. Stigler has written a very worthwhile textbook on the history of statistics, or, more accurately, the development of statistics in modern Western civilization. This book is not a strict chronology of the development of statistical science: it is more of a collection of profiles of profound, significant events that shaped the scientific community and the World at large.
Readers will be amazed by the author's knowledge and insights in this special corner of historical research, and can also look forward to a presentation of compelling stories and gripping dramas, complemented by the author's trademark wit and humour.
Given its position as one of the leading college text books in the history of statistics, this book is perhaps less accessible to a general audience compared with the recent crop of "popular science" books such as "Fermat's Enigma"; but any learned readers should nevertheless find this a highly informative and worthwhile book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative introduction to statistics and their uses., March 3, 2000
These essays examine some of the basic concepts involved in bringing statistical argument to the table, and considers the history of statistics and their methods and use. Essential to any college-level math course on the topic, Statistics on the Table probes how statisticians link statistics to social issues and daily life, providing essays which examine statistical ideas and their impact.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of essays for statisticians but readable by the layman as well, August 23, 2013
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BillH (DeForest, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods (Paperback)
This collection of essays is primarily aimed at the statistician or mathematician and includes numerous undefined statistical terms and equations. Nevertheless, its readable prose is sufficiently descriptive for even a non-statistician like me to follow and enjoy.
I gave the book four stars only because of my lack of statistical training. I think a reader who has taken even a couple of beginning statistical courses would have no trouble with the concepts described.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative to learn some of the history., February 8, 2013
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This review is from: Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods (Paperback)
I've enjoyed learning some of the history behind the statistics. There are some amusing stories. If you've ever wondered where some of those tests came from, this a good read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sequel, August 7, 2010
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This review is from: Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods (Paperback)
I purchased Dr. Stigler's earlier book on the history of statistics. I wrote him to inquire about a follow-up. He said that this book was as close as he would get. If you want to understand why certain statistical techniques developed the way they did then Stigler's two books are for you. In this modern world, we have every thing nice and neetly packaged for use. It is humbling to read about these pioneers who struggled to explain things with no adequate math to back them up...until they developed it themselves.
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Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods
Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods by Stephen M. Stigler (Paperback - September 30, 2002)
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